Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lincoln on Leadership

I have been reading this great book about Abraham Lincoln and his leadership style (Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips). He was the president during one of the most difficult times in this nation's history. It has been a learning experience to study his methods of leading. He had unbelievable faith...not only in himself, but in others. He understood that people were important, regardless of their station. He used persuasion rather than coercion to motivate others to action. He understood the importance of having strong alliances. As I was reading this evening, I came across a great quote that I would like to share because it fits so many situations...the topic of this chapter was on dealing with unjust criticism:

"In the later part of 1864, at a time close to an election in which he could be voted out of office, the president kept his faith in the people. Lincoln believed that, in the end, his course would be vindicated. 'I cannot run the political machine,' he once said, 'I have enough on my hands without that. It is the people's business---the election is in their hands. If they turn their backs to the fire, and get scorched in the rear, they'll find they have to sit on the blister.' "

My favorite part of that is: If they turn their backs to the fire, and get scorched in the rear, they'll find they have to sit on the blister! Now this gave me pause to stop and consider what things I have turned my back on and just how many blisters I am nursing! My next thought was, how wonderful a way to express that there are things going on around us that we cannot control and worrying over them won't change anything. I would not say that I am a big worrier, but there are things that I allow to overwhelm me. Usually they are things that are out of my control. For example, in my work, I have no control over who is going to walk through the door. I have no control over how many of my co-workers will be available to assist in meeting the needs of these individuals. I have no control over the fact that I only have 8 hours each day to devote to getting as much done as I can at a job that will never be completely done.

I also liked the end of the quote that puts the consequences squarely where they belong...on the rear of those who are turning their backs. While this may not be entirely accurate because I do believe that many innocent suffer as a result of bad judgement on the part of a few, it does give me solace to know that since I cannot change these things, someone other than myself should feel the pain. Therefore, I am resolved from this point, as we enter the season of the year when everyone wants their cash, food stamps and medicaid that I will not feel guilty if I can't get it all done. I will work as hard and as efficiently as possible without sacrificing accuracy and do what I can. I will seek for the Lord's blessings as I work. The amazing thing about what I do, is that I really do like it. Most of the time, it is a thankless job that I am thankful to have. I am thankful that I work with really great people who share the frustration. I am mostly thankful to wonderful friends who offer love and support. I know I could not do what I do without these blessings from the Lord.
So the next time you see me, if I look frazzled or stressed, just ask me how it feels to have my back to the fire...


Papa D said...

"Most of the time, it is a thankless job that I am thankful to have."

That is both propound and a very good reason why you are so loved by everyone around you.

Patty said...

It's hard to let go of the desire to get everything done that we want to get done. In the eternal scheme of things though, I think we'll look back and realize we got more done than what we thought we did. This is a great thought for me to hear right now though!!